Even before 2020, business and IT leaders talked a lot about the need to create resilience in their systems and workflows, in order to be ready to meet unanticipated challenges head-on. Then, in March, most companies saw their environments put to an unprecedented test, as the COVID-19 crisis forced much of the business world to shift to a remote work environment rapidly.
Some companies fared better than others. The results often came down to the combined effects of the organizational structures, applications, and infrastructure that businesses had adopted before the crisis hit.
“IT is the broker of services to its constituents,” Rahul Tripathi, Chief Technology Officer of Customer Success and VP/GM Worldwide Professional Services for Nutanix, said in a recent webinar on the topic of resilience. To make IT resilient to challenges, Tripathi said to focus on the interplay of three areas: an organization that can adapt quickly, applications that can adjust to changing needs, and IT infrastructure that is reliable and scalable.
“If you have any one of them broken, you simply can't get IT resilience.”
During the webinar, Tripathi and Jeff Hausman, general manager for IT operations management at ServiceNow, discussed how businesses can optimize each of these three areas to run a stronger business.
A common inhibitor of resilience, Hausman noted during the webinar, is a lack of communication and collaboration between different stakeholders that need to come together during a crisis. Silos of information and knowledge make it difficult for these stakeholders to cooperate. This became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have organizations right now that have physical locations in addition to online services, and many of those physical locations are not actually available,” Hausman said. “And so organizations are very much having to focus on the online services side of things.”
Bringing together information from different parts of the company can help, said Hausman. He explained how ServiceNow offers what he describes as a “platform of platforms” meant to provide a unified view of a company’s IT services environment.
“We have a single data model, a single platform, that allows you to build flexible workflows that bring all the disparate information together to operate and run those services, whether those are banking services or streaming services, or customer service support,” he said.
Startup companies have something of an advantage when it comes to resilience, Tripathi noted, because often they rely more heavily on cloud applications. By contrast, more established companies typically have a complex mix of cloud and on-premise applications, which can present problems during a crisis.
“In a traditional organization, you have DevOps-based teams, cloud-based teams, some modern teams, but you’re also carrying the burden of legacy applications,” he said. Even as traditional IT organizations start using microservices, container-based applications and more SaaS applications, they’ll need to shift in other areas and think differently.